ISLAMABAD: A special flight of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), carrying 176 stranded Pakistanis from Yemen, arrived at Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Friday.
The passengers were received by Prime minister's adviser on civil aviation Shujaat Azeem along with PIA Chairman Nasser N S Jaffer. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif was also present at the airport along with the chairman of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation.
A number of arriving passengers will depart for Karachi and other cities in subsequent flights, whereas those evacuees belonging to various parts of Punjab will be sent home on Daewoo buses as well as transport provided by the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation.
While talking to media representatives at the airport, Khawaja Asif said that the remaining Pakistanis stranded in Sanaa will be evacuated soon.
"There are a few hundred Pakistanis remaining in Yemen. Majority of the Pakistanis left when Sanaa was captured by Houthi rebels," the defence minister said.
"If a PIA flight can be sent to Sanaa, it will be; otherwise we have requested the Saudi defence minister to provide us with a corridor to transport the stranded Pakistanis to Hudaydah and evacuate them from there," he added.
The flight took off from Djibouti on Friday morning, according to the state-run Radio Pakistan website. The Foreign Office had confirmed on Thursday the departure of 186 Pakistanis from Yemen's port of Aden on board a Chinese Navy ship for Djibouti.
The PIA flight had left for Djibouti late on Thursday to bring the stranded Pakistanis back to their country.
Around 175 Pakistanis are awaiting evacuation from Yemen's port-city of Mokallah.
Also read: Yemen conundrum
A Pakistan Navy ship had reached Mokallah port on Thursday, but the evacuation was delayed because of skirmishes which erupted around the port city following Wednesday night’s jailbreak by Al Qaeda in which some 300 inmates were freed.
Another group of 145 Pakistanis is in Sanaa. They are unwilling to move to other cities for evacuation. A special flight is being planned to airlift them from Sanaa.
Around 3,000 Pakistanis lived in Yemen, with some 1,000 trying to leave the country, after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies launched airstrikes to “answer the call of President Hadi to protect Yemen and his people from the aggression of the (Shia) Houthi militia.“
The first flight dispatched to Yemen to facilitate the evacuation of Pakistanis stranded in the Middle Eastern conflict zone had landed at Karachi airport Sunday night, with around 500 Pakistani nationals on board.